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21 state guardsmen bound for Balkans

Families and friends dressed in red, white and blue filled the 39th Brigade headquarters in North Little Rock to see off 21 Arkansas National Guardsmen for a nine-month mission Thursday morning. Among them, Shannan Rozenberg, who watched through tears the brief deployment ceremony for the troops heading to Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It comforted Rozenberg to know that her husband’s mission, his third deployment, is a noncombat one. Nonetheless, it was difficult to say goodbye.

“It’s still not easy,” she said.

Thursday’s sendoff marked the final installment of the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s three-part deployment this spring. The 130 soldiers will support the Kosovo Force, an ongoing NATO peacekeeping mission that began in response to the end of the war between the Serbian government and its autonomous province of Kosovo. The initial purpose of the mission was to help that nation recover from the conflict by relocating displaced people, removing mines, providing medical assistance, protecting ethnic minorities and supporting the establishment of civilian government. Now, the mission’s purpose is to maintain peace across the Balkans. Brig. Gen. Kirk Van Pelt told the soldiers that their work will continue to stabilize the region.

“The peace and support operations that you are about to undertake will be instrumental in maintaining the local security and to ensure the safety of the citizens of Kosovo for the next year,” Van Pelt said.

Kosovo Force involves roughly 4,500 military members from 29 countries, according to the mission’s website. Thirty Arkansas National Guardsmen were sent May 8, and 80 were sent May 29, Lt. Col. Joel Lynch said. They serve as the headquarters staff in Kosovo, while the troops sent off Thursday will work in training, advisory, supply and administration. In addition to the 21 at the ceremony, two soldiers from the same brigade have already been sent over for training, and four are completing a postal mission in Germany, Lt. Col. Miriam Carlisle said.

“We’re going to do this mission, and we’re going to be back soon,” Carlisle told the families. “Sooner than you think. I hope.”

The troops fly today to Fort Bliss in Texas for training before splitting up to leave for either Pristina, Kosovo, or Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Van Pelt thanked the families for their sacrifices.

“It’s your love and support that allow these soldiers to do what they do to serve our country and our nation,” he said. Toddlers in their mothers’ laps waved small American flags. One soldier put his arm around his wife. His young son, sitting on the other side, grabbed his hand from behind the chair.

The Arkansas National Guard drills one weekend a month, so most of the members deployed Thursday have full-time jobs. Rozenberg’s husband will leave his job as a school superintendent in Bearden.

Living in a town with fewer than 1,000 people an hour and a half from Little Rock, Rozenberg isn’t part of a family support group. But this deployment will be easier than past ones, she said, because she’ll be able to video chat with her husband every day. She also knows it’s what her husband is meant to do.

“He could have retired 10 years ago, but he loves it,” Rozenberg said. “He’s going where he needs to go. He needs to do his part.”

Metro on 06/23/2017

Cindy expected to drench Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia

Photo: DAVID_GRUNFELD, AP

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Wth a rising tide, strong southerly winds from Tropical Depression Cindy lash the lakefront Thursday, June 22, 2017 in Mandeville, La. (David Grunfeld/NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)

Wth a rising tide, strong southerly winds from Tropical Depression Cindy lash the lakefront Thursday, June 22, 2017 in Mandeville, La. (David Grunfeld/NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)

Photo: DAVID_GRUNFELD, AP

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Water levels rise after a combination of high tide and the rain from Tropical Storm Cindy in Lake Charles, La., Thursday, June 22, 2017. (Rick Hickman/American Press via AP)

Water levels rise after a combination of high tide and the rain from Tropical Storm Cindy in Lake Charles, La., Thursday, June 22, 2017. (Rick Hickman/American Press via AP)

Photo: Rick Hickman, AP

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A police officer stands guard after a possible tornado touched down destroying several businesses, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Fairfield, Ala. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says the threat of severe weather has not concluded as the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy pushes inland. Ivey in a Thursday press briefing urged people to stay vigilant. A possible tornado touched down destroying several businesses, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Fairfield, Ala. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says the threat of severe weather has not concluded as the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy pushes inland. Ivey in a Thursday press briefing urged people to stay vigilant.

A mailbox sticks out of water during neighborhood flooding after Tropical Storm Cindy, now downgraded to Tropical Depression Cindy, in Big Lake, La., Thursday, June 22, 2017. A mailbox sticks out of water during neighborhood flooding after Tropical Storm Cindy, now downgraded to Tropical Depression Cindy, in Big Lake, La., Thursday, June 22, 2017.

Photo: Gerald Herbert, AP

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A car drives through a partially submerged roadway after Tropical Storm Cindy, now downgraded to Tropical Depression Cindy, in Big Lake, La., Thursday, June 22, 2017. A car drives through a partially submerged roadway after Tropical Storm Cindy, now downgraded to Tropical Depression Cindy, in Big Lake, La., Thursday, June 22, 2017.

Photo: Gerald Herbert, AP

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Water levels rise after a combination of high tide and the rain from Tropical Storm Cindy in Lake Charles, La., Thursday, June 22, 2017. (Rick Hickman/American Press via AP)

Water levels rise after a combination of high tide and the rain from Tropical Storm Cindy in Lake Charles, La., Thursday, June 22, 2017. (Rick Hickman/American Press via AP)

Photo: Rick Hickman, AP

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Jordan Fortune, 3, laughs as a wave churned up by Tropical Depression Cindy hits a sea wall at the harbor in Pass Christian, Miss., on Thursday, June 22, 2017.

Jordan Fortune, 3, laughs as a wave churned up by Tropical Depression Cindy hits a sea wall at the harbor in Pass Christian, Miss., on Thursday, June 22, 2017.

Photo: Jay Reeves, AP

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A house alongside State Highway 87 sits on a small island after Tropical Storm Cindy brought high tides as it made landfall earlier Thursday, June 22, 2017 on the Bolivar Peninsula. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP) Crews work to clear sand and debris from State Highway 87 after Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall earlier Thursday, June 22, 2017 on the Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. ( Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Debris covers State Highway 87 after Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall earlier Thursday, June 22, 2017 on the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Debris covers State Highway 87 after Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall earlier Thursday, June 22, 2017 on the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle )

Photo: Michael Ciaglo, AP

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In this image taken from video, Erin West walks down a flooded street in her neighborhood after Tropical Storm Cindy, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Ocean Springs, Miss. Persistent drainage problems frustrate residents, some of whom couldn’t drive to work because of the storm, West said, and others are worried about the possibility of alligators coming into their yards in the floodwaters. A man shields himself from the rain while riding his bicycle on the intersection of St. Emmanuel and Leeland streets Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Houston as Tropical Storm Cindy hit Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast. (Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Debris is removed after it covered TX-87 as a results of Tropical Storm Cindy on Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. ( Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Debris is removed after it covered TX-87 as a results of Tropical Storm Cindy on Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. ( Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Photo: Elizabeth Conley, AP

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Jeffery Chheang works at Dannay’s Donuts on Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. Chheang said the Tropical Storm Cindy seems to have made it slower at the store. “Usually we get families on vacation in, but so far, we’ve really only had locals.” ( Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Tommy Bomar, of High Island, Texas, checks out the waves as a result of Tropical Storm Cindy on Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Tommy Bomar, of High Island, Texas, checks out the waves as a result of Tropical Storm Cindy on Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Photo: Elizabeth Conley, AP

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Water and debris, washed up past the beach by Tropical Storm Cindy, sit on Kahla Drive Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Crystal Beach, Texas. ( Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Water and debris, washed up past the beach by Tropical Storm Cindy, sit on Kahla Drive Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Crystal Beach, Texas. ( Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Photo: Michael Ciaglo, AP

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A woman walks along the beach the morning after Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall Thursday, June 22, 2017, on the Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)

A woman walks along the beach the morning after Tropical Storm Cindy made landfall Thursday, June 22, 2017, on the Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. (Michael Ciaglo/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Photo: Michael Ciaglo, AP

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Debris covers TX-87 as a result of Tropical Storm Cindy on Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Debris covers TX-87 as a result of Tropical Storm Cindy on Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Bolivar Peninsula, Texas. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Photo: Elizabeth Conley, AP

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Hersch promoted in National Guard

Theresia Hersch, Mandan, was promoted to the rank of chief warrant officer 5 on May 15 in front of an audience of friends, family and fellow Guardsmen at the Raymond J. Bohn Armory in Bismarck. Brig. Gen. Robert Fode, North Dakota National Guard Army Component commander, presided over the ceremony. Brig. Gen. Giselle Wilz, commander, NATO Headquarters Sarajevo, and senior military representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, administered the oath of office via video teleconference. A Bismarck native, Hersch began her career in the state Army National Guard in 1988, when she enlisted into the 818th Medical Battalion. She attended Warrant Officer Candidate School and after being appointed as a warrant officer was hired as the executive assistant to then-North Dakota Adjutant General Keith Bjerke in 1996. In 2000, Hersch was assigned as the personnel officer for the 141st Engineer Combat Battalion and later worked in the Guard human resource office as the employee benefits specialist.

In 2007, Hersch deployed for a yearlong mission to Iraq with the 164th Engineer Battalion (Security Forces). Upon her return, she was asked by former North Dakota Adjutant General David Sprynczynatyk to serve as his executive assistant and aide-de-camp. Hersch served in this capacity until 2015, when she deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina as Wilz’s aide-de-camp. Upon her return home, Hersch became the strategic engagement coordinator for the North Dakota National Guard, a position in which she continues.

An active volunteer in Bismarck-Mandan, Hersch is vice commander and Honor Guard member for AMVETSPost 9 and a lifetime member and Honor Guard member for the Disabled American Veterans. She helped co-organize Team Red, White and Blue chapters across the state with her husband, Robert Fode. Team RWB is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to enriching the lives of American veterans, their families and communities though social and physical activities.